By Steven Candia
KAMPALA - Imperial Royale Hotel has refunded sh76m that was allegedly fraudulently paid to it for a non-existent workshop organised by the works ministry early this year.
The money, according to documents seen by New Vision, was refunded by the hotel, part of the Imperial Group of Hotels owned by city tycoon Karim Hirji, on March 22.
Documents available indicate that the money was paid into a Ministry of Works account, number 000160088000014.
A Bank of Uganda receipt indicates that the money (sh76,993,000) was paid in by Rebecca Mella, a senior accounts assistant and entered as a refund from Imperial Royale Hotel.
A Bank of Uganda statement of account indicates that sh76.9m was credited into the account on March 22 with details indicating Rebecca Mella.
The refund comes at a time when the hotel management, Hirji (pictured right) inclusive, are also being investigated in connection with another ghost workshop by the Ministry of Health late last year for which payments were also made to the hotel.
Late last month, Hirji was again questioned by the Police at the Jinja Road Police Station in connection with a Ministry of Health workshop. His appearance came only weeks after Hirji had faced off with the Police at his hotel in connection with a ghost Ministry of Works workshop.
In February, detectives interrogated Hirji over a ‘ghost’ workshop allegedly organised by the Ministry of Works where the payment deposited by the treasury was later withdrawn by certain individuals.
Mid-February, the Police raided the Ministry of Works head offices in Entebbe, arresting three officials, among them Rosemary Tibiwa, the assistant commissioner transport, Rogers Kisambira, a civil engineer and Anthony Kwesiga, an economist.
Several other top hotel officials among them Rufus Ngethe, the general manager; Bhat Raghupathi, the financial controller; Paul Kintu, an accountant and Ronald Ssenyondo, a marketing executive, were questioned by the Police as part of the investigations into the scam.
The Ministry of Works fraud was in connection with a planned half-day workshop organised by the ministry that did not actually take place but was reflected by the hotel as a two-day full residential workshop and paid for.
Due to the alleged forgery, sh76m was paid through Electronic Funds Transfer to the hotel instead of sh6m, had the half-day transport sector workshop taken place.
Police said the officials in a bid to justify the amount also allegedly forged a list of 48 participants who purportedly attended the workshop from January 8 to January 9, 2013, with each delegate receiving a daily allowance of sh96,000.
The workshop to review a report on the feasibility study on rapid bus transport in the Greater Kampala Area was according to the list, attended by key sector players.